We can all use a feel-good story

A few years ago, I joined a Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) Facebook group, because I was really just looking for intel on how to get tickets to baseball games in Korea.  Mythical (then) gf was going to Seoul for a month and expressed interest in going to a baseball game while out there, and I figured English speaking Koreans on this particular KBO group would be a great resource to tap into.

I never left the group, and when the coronavirus pandemic started and all sports shut down across the globe, one of the very first professional leagues to get back on track was the KBO, and for a very brief part of summer, all sports-starved eyes of the world were all focused on KBO.  As far as the Facebook group went, the membership exploded, with the most prevalent sector of noobs showing up being degenerate gamblers, practically begging the group for any tips any info to use.  Still, I stayed in the group, because it was Korean and it was baseball, and I enjoyed seeing the perspectives of fans in a completely different realm outside of MLB and affiliated ball. 

A few weeks ago, I saw a post pop up, about a guy who had witnessed a bus hit a dog, and how he was trying to rescue said dog.  Frankly, given my general attention span when it comes to social media, I didn’t even realize at first that it was coming from the KBO group, and then I saw the name of the person who had made the post – a person named Anthony Lerew.

The reason why this name rang a bell for me, is that a long time ago, when I was still early in my quest to visit all 30 MLB ballparks, when my travels took me into Boston, naturally I planned it during a weekend when the Braves would be making a rare interleague appearance out there, long before I realized that I was a walking bad luck charm for the Braves* whenever I traveled.

As was often times the norm back in those days, teams loved to call up pitchers from Triple-A for interleague games, mostly on account of the fact that their opposite league opponents would have zero familiarity with them, and hope that such would give them an edge.  The Braves called Anthony Lerew up from Richmond to pitch against the Red Sox, and I remember sitting in Cheers in Boston, having a massive burger and a Sam Adams, while the game started, relishing in being that tourist with the away team’s hat, hoping for a good game for the Braves in hallowed Fenway Park.

Lerew gave up three earned runs, and the Braves lost 13-3.  As was occasionally the case with Bobby Cox, he had a short trigger with young pitchers like Lerew and pulled him after the second, and let a bunch of trash pitchers absorb the rest of the afternoon.

What I didn’t really realize was that was Lerew’s last appearance for the Atlanta Braves.  He was back in the minor leagues the following year, and I vaguely have some recollection of him getting shelved with injury before being released.  As was the case with many former Braves, Dayton Moore was quick to pick him up and bring him to the Royals, where he had a few more appearances in the bigs in 2009 and 2010, before his major league career ended.

Unbeknownst to me, his career continued on long after his time in affiliated ball, and he kept on pitching wherever his talents could be utilized.  Japan, Korea, Venezuela, the Independents.  He had one particularly good year in 2012, where he pitched 170 innings for the Kia Tigers, while maintaining a 3.83 ERA. 

I have no idea if that one particular year had anything to do with his present, but fast forward to present day, and Anthony Lerew is still in baseball now, where he is on the coaching staff for the Kia Tigers.  This made me happy to learn, as there’s always something so beautiful about the guys that are baseball lifers that always stay involved in the game, even after their playing careers are over.

Anyway, back to the story about the dog, one thing that I learned from my two trips to Korea, is that their bus drivers are among the most reckless drivers on the planet.  I spent maybe cumulatively 20 days in various parts of Korea over those trips, and I witnessed no less than three different incidents of buses hitting cars or guys on scooters, from Seoul to Jeju to Geongju.  The notion of a Korean bus driver hitting a dog and driving off is about as surprising as finding out about pollen in Georgia.

So Lerew came across a badly injured dog, and decided to take it upon himself to try and rescue him.  Unsurprising, costs would be an issue, as KBO salaries are nowhere near pro salaries in America, much less for a non-player coach, so Lerew did what many in the world do whenever they try to raise money for a cause: GoFundMe.

99 times out of 100, I tend to kind of pretend like I didn’t see a GoFundMe, because there’s at any given time so many of them out there that have some degree of personal connection to me, and it’s not that I don’t care about any of these causes so much as I got a second kid on the way, my finances are pretty buttoned up, and I don’t always have the capacity to get involved.

But once a Brave, always a Brave to me, and I always remembered Lerew from Boston, and when I saw him, he always had the most killer sideburns.

Plus it wasn’t like Lerew was trying to exploit GoFundMe and/or his friends, to raise money in order to pay bills or some sort of debt that was his own fault and was totally avoidable.  He was just trying to rescue an injured dog.  Who doesn’t love dogs?  So I donated a small amount, with genuine hopes that he would reach his target goal of the equivalent of $7,000 USD to pay for surgery, rehab, vaccines and other costs.

It didn’t take long at all for the goal to be met, because clearly there are many out there that love baseball, love dogs, recognized Lerew, or whatever reason.  I think it hit the goal in 2-3 days, and I was pleased to see Anthony Lerew notch a win in one of the many things in the world out there that are more important than just baseball.

The best part about this whole story has been Lerew and his family’s complete transparency during the whole aftermath of the fundraiser.  It’s not that I wouldn’t have trusted him, but in this jaded day and age of scumbags and thieves, I can understand the Lerews’ overcaution with transparency, and they posted updates on a near daily basis of the journey of Oreo (the dog’s new name), updates on surgeries, receipts, and adorable rehab videos; in English and in Korean.

As of today, it sounds as if the worst of the journey is over, and Oreo has been discharged from the vet and is on her way to a life of care and compassion with the Lerews in Korea.

Honestly, I didn’t really know where I was really going with this post so much as I just wanted to share a story of rare positivity and a happy ending in this time of the world that is desperately in need of stories like this.  I loved hearing that Anthony Lerew is still in baseball, and that he’s a person of great compassion, faith and resourceful enough to utilize technology, and that there are many also compassionate people out there who are willing to chip in for a good cause.

lol Barves

Not much to really say.  As a fan of both baseball and human rights in general, I for one stand in full solidarity with the decision to strip the All-Star Game from Atlanta because of Georgia’s turrible voting rights laws.  I hear it’s going to Denver instead, which will probably be good for baseball, because people like legalized weed, and home runs, both of which exist in abundance in Denver.

But in spite of being for lack of a better term “my team,” I’m taking sadistic amusement of seeing ScumTrust Truist Park being forced to embarrassingly remove all mention of the All-Star Game from the ballpark and probably all around the surrounding Battery.  Probably at the airport too.  Oh fucking well.

This is what leadership like Bubba Kemp looks like – big talk, no action, and getting owned.  Yea c’mon~

I’m okay with whenever Braves corporate gets owned

When the topic of Georgia’s recently passed voter suppression laws were fresh, I had plenty of thoughts about it, but no real desire to write about it, because when it comes to politics and racism, it’s a sad and unfortunate feeling of a pointless debate, because it doesn’t matter just how flagrant and blatant it can be, it still inexplicably breezes on through to law and no amount of protesting and action afterward ever can undo it.  That, and the whole I have no time ever thing, to where when I do have a little bit of free time to myself, none of it wants to be spent writing about the futile state of Georgia’s politics.

But the recent news of Major League Baseball plucking the 2021 All-Star Game right out the hands of Cobb County, the Atlanta Braves and ScumTrust Truist Park, as something of a national punishment for being in a state that allowed such flagrant discrimination?  Now that’s some shit right there, that piques my interest and gets some creative writing juices flowing.

In one hand, there’s a sensible portion of me that feels a little bit bad for ultimately, the Atlanta Braves organization, because they’re the ones getting embarrassingly punished for a decision that has next to nothing to do with baseball, and sits on a level way above a glorified kids game.  This is kind of along the lines of businesses threatening to boycott and leave the state because of Jim Crow 2.0, where that might send a message to people that what Georgia politicians did was a bad thing, but it will definitely hurt the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people who work for these businesses or rely on these businesses to make livings.

But in the other hand, there’s a sadistic part of me that sees the Atlanta Braves organization-real estate conglomerate is this entity that makes a gozillion dollars every year on a variety of revenue streams, and is ultimately headed up by some circle-jerk of old white people who I have no qualms with seeing take a humiliating slap on the wrist on a national level, and hopefully lose out on some large pies that will instead go to like Chicago or Philadelphia or Los Angeles instead.  Sure, the hundreds of people that would be allowed to actually attend in a pandemic ‘Murica won’t spend their money at local businesses, but MLB’s All-Star break is just a few days in which some projected money won’t be thrown about; it’s a vastly different scenario than say the Georgia film industry, uprooting and leaving, forever, killing thousands of jobs in the process.

When the day is over, I’m glad that Atlanta lost the All-Star game. Aside from being a newer ballpark, and MLB loves to award All-Star games to newer ballparks, the Braves or the city, or this fucking state hasn’t done shit to deserve getting a cash injection that an All-Star game tends to bring, and I’m not going to lose any sleep over the city getting owned, as a result of a crooked choice made by the state.  Because let’s be real here, in spite of their efforts to remain politically ambiguous, most records revealed just how much of the Braves brass leans right, and so they kind of indirectly did this to themselves.

No matter the fact that I support the baseball team and want to see them succeed, I love hearing about when the Braves business organization gets owned.

The year-end post, circa 2020

This video by Carters encapsulates how I feel extremely succinctly.  I know 2020 has been a historically catastrophic year by any number of measures, and I’m not going to even try and change anyone’s mind who’ve already decided that there’s absolutely nothing at all redeemable about it.  It’s a fair judgment, and there’s tons of justification to where I just have to shrug and agree that such X and other Y really are terrible things, and leave people alone to continue believing that 2020 was the worst year in human existence.

Frankly, if not for the one obvious event in my life this year, I’d probably be right there with them.  But because of said event, there’s absolutely nothing else that could really occur that can make me possibly think that 2020 was anything other than among the greatest years of my life.  Like many, I too know my share of people whom coronavirus has dually affected throughout the year, or had some very unfortunate events or news take place, and my heart genuinely, sincerely goes out to them, and I wish for nothing but the best for them and their loved ones.

But nothing is going to change my perspective on 2020 being a magnificent year, because nothing has been a greater event in my life than the birth of my daughter, right before all the shit really began to hit the fan.  And throughout the remainder of the year, for every piece of horrible, shitty news, note about someone dying, bad day at work, or any other reason for stress and unhappiness, I was always mere steps away from being able to go pick up my daughter and hold her in my arms and will away the negativity.

As ironic as it may seem, and I’ve said it as much, as much as coronavirus and the global pandemic have been devastating to the world throughout the year, it’s inadvertently put me in the most optimal position in the sense that I’ve gotten to work from home since the shit hit the fan, and I’ve gotten to spend a tremendous amount of time more raising my daughter than if the world wasn’t in lockdown and I had to go back to work in the office while my child would be in a daycare, in the hands and responsibility of people I don’t know. 

I don’t fucking want that, even if there were no coronavirus in play.  I’ve been fortunate and I treasure all the time I’ve had and will continue to have being close to my kid, and it’s ironic that I have to thank the selfish stupidity of ‘Muricans for being so stupid and greedy that they can’t or refuse to comply to the behaviors that would’ve eradicated all of this if we just had some collective cooperation.

But outside of my child and coronavirus, 2020 has been somewhat of an eventful year.  Yes, most of it was bad, but not everything was completely putrid.  And as I tend to do every year, I take some notes on a daily basis of the things that happen that are remotely interesting to me, so I guess behind the jump, we’ll take a look back through the year that everyone loves to hate and can’t wait to see end:

Continue reading “The year-end post, circa 2020”

The only good thing to come out of a season that shouldn’t have been

Inevitable: Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman wins National League Most Valuable Player

Not bad for a guy who went into the season recovering from coronavirus.  But then again, professional athletes with professional athlete money typically can afford to get the best treatment possible, on the dime of their organizations who see them as working assets to begin with.

But I’m going off track here, shocker.  Freddie Freeman has quietly been one of the better players in all of baseball, almost since the day he arrived, and it’s about time that he was recognized as the MVP all Braves fans knew he was going to receive one day.  Sure, there will be many naysayers, myself included if it had gone to anyone not on the Braves, citing shit like partial season and asterisk season and other bullshit, but because it was awarded to one of the guys I’ve been a fan of since the days of seeing him in the minor leagues as a Myrtle Beach Pelican, I cast all the snark aside and can just be happy for Freddie Freeman.

In a massively shortened, 60 game season, Freeman put up gaudy numbers, hitting 13 home runs as well as slashing .341/.462/.640, which is extremely good.  The Braves themselves went 35-25, and actually didn’t choke in the minus round or the first round of the playoffs, making it all the way to the NLCS, where they gave all Braves fans hope going up 3-1 on the Dodgers before Atlanta-ing away three straight losses and getting eliminated.  But as is often the conciliatory remark, they wouldn’t have gotten to that point in the first place, without the contributions of outstanding performances like Freddie Freeman.

What means the most to me though, is that major awards are given with no care or concern to the people themselves, just solely based on numbers and production.  Freddie Freeman is one of those baseball players that has a squeaky-clean image, is seemingly nice to everyone, and his earliest reputation was built on the fact that he was a massive hugger, who hugged all his teammates, all his coaches and all his peers.  He came out to Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe for two years on his own volition, and was one of those guys that clearly played the game of baseball like it was fun, the way it was originally meant to be for children.

There have been loads of grumpy, standoffish tryhards in history that are phenomenal baseball players, but are just kind of dicks as people, who go on to win MVPs and have tremendous individual success.  Sure, those MVPs pave the way for financial success and gain, but it’s always like the bad guys win whenever one of those types takes home an MVP award.

Such is hardly the case for Freddie Freeman winning the MVP award all Braves fans knew he was capable of winning.  It’s like a case of the nice guy actually winning, and the world needs more instances of good people getting great results.  I mean seriously, look at the reaction of this guy when he found out he was the winner; hugs all around first and foremost, and it’s just a guy surrounded by his family, soaking in the elation of baseball’s most prestigious individual award.

There’s really not much else to say about this; this was a season that I personally didn’t think should have taken place from the start, but as the Braves neared the World Series, the obvious hypocrisy of my tone changed, that is until the sore loser emerged from another shortfall from an Atlanta team.  But if there were ever such a thing as an acceptable consolation price to come out of a polarizing season, Freddie Freeman winning the NL MVP was definitely it.  I’m genuinely happy for him, and glad the blowhards in the BBWAA actually got something right for a change.

The precise moment where the Braves fulfilled their destiny

Top 4th, runners on second and third, nobody out.  The Braves had just taken a 3-2 lead on the Dodgers on a single by third baseman Austin Riley, and were in a prime position to bust the game open and put the Dodgers into a precarious hole.  Instead, in only a way that the bumbling Braves are capable of doing, they turn a scenario that has a high probability to score some runs into one where they commit three outs in mere minutes in a game where every single one of the first four innings felt like Star Wars trilogies in themselves, they took that long.

After Austin Riley got tagged out for the second out of a bang-bang botched run down, and then the Braves completed the colossal fuck up by harmlessly grounding out to end the inning, this is where I knew that the game was effectively over.  I’ve watched enough baseball in my life to recognize that when you give away opportunities to score runs that don’t cross the plate, Murphy’s Law dictates that the opposition will definitively, cash them in instead.  What probably should have been a 5-2 or a 4-2 score to end the 4th inning instead remained at a paltry one-run 3-2 score, which the Dodgers would easily grind away and overcome, while the Braves literally went three-and-out in every single inning except one throughout the remainder of the game.

The fuckup on the basepaths undoubtedly sucked all the wind out of the sails of the Braves, ruined all of their swagger and confidence, and most importantly, planted the undefeatable seeds of impending defeat into their minuscule brains.  The remainder of the game after that tragic sequence was all but a formality, and a contest of when, the Dodgers would eventually take the lead.

Frankly, the only reason why I watched the entire game was that I was hoping that the Dodgers would go to Kenley Jansen to close the game since he’s been pretty awful throughout the season and he would be the best chance for the Braves to maybe make some late-inning heroics as they’ve done numerous times throughout the year, but it turned out that the Dodgers didn’t trust Jansen in this critical game, and instead rode the hot hand of Julio Urias instead to close out the game himself.

Naturally, I’m sure anyone of my zero readers can see through the façade I put forth of being the world’s worst baseball fan when it comes to the Braves, and I spare a lot of words and drivel bemoaning them and deriding them, as if I had the mutant power to tempt fate to prove me wrong with writing, but in reality, there’s nothing more I would’ve wanted than to see the Braves actually not fuck up for a change, defeat the Dodgers and actually go to the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays of all teams.

Continue reading “The precise moment where the Braves fulfilled their destiny”

This is what wheels coming off a vehicle looks and sounds like

Well, at least the Braves aren’t going to go down having gotten swept.  Instead, they’ll have gone down flubbing a 3-1 series lead, which in baseball isn’t that terribly uncommon, but it’s still poor optics, since the statistics of teams coming back from 3-1 deficits are still minuscule in comparison to how long Major League Baseball has been played.

Honestly, I’m more surprised that the series is going to seven games now, which is the ultimate agony for sports fans to endure, watching the slow bleed of defeat, watching their teams bring them to the brink of hope and jubilation, only for them to crash into agonizing finality.  But when the Braves got blown out and allowed 15 runs in game three, I figured that it was a foregone conclusion that the Dodgers were beginning their mighty comeback and were going to win four straight, like the way the Braves blew the 1996 World Series against the Yankees after winning the first two games.

Instead, the Braves gave false hope to all Braves fans by winning game 4 in commanding fashion and sitting on a pretty 3-1 series lead.  Naturally, since they have no starting pitching, they lost game 5, which was probably to be expected, but fans would find solace in the fact that Max Fried, arguably the best pitcher on the team would get the ball for game 6, but that brings us to now, where Fried pitched well, it’s just that the Braves offense appeared to have cashed in all of its available runs in the previous five games, and could barely scrap together a single run, losing to the Dodgers and sending the NLCS to game 7, where they will undoubtedly lose in embarrassing fashion, by like a score of like 11-1, bringing closure to a season that really shouldn’t have happened in the first place, and back to another cold offseason of pessimism and increasing nihilism in professional sports.

Much like Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, I can’t bring myself to watch games of teams that I actually care about, because it gives me anxiety and stress that I really don’t need, and I superstitiously believe that I am a master of the universe that undoubtedly jinxes whatever team I care about when I watch them, and if I do want the Braves to win, I most absolutely should not be watching them.

Seriously though, check out this Mookie Betts catch.  This is the kind of highlight that preserves no-hitters or turns the tides of playoff series.  If he doesn’t make that catch then Ozuna doubles for sure, and Freddie Freeman probably scores.  A single run doesn’t change the 3-0 deficit that the Braves were in, but at the same time, it could very well have been the start of a rally.  The thing is, a catch like Betts’ is what keeps the mythical momentum on the side of the Dodgers while sucking the life out of the hope of the Braves.  The jubilation of Mookie Betts after making the catch is precisely the opposite of a metaphor of what the Braves’ chances of winning the series sounds like.  Although his lips appear to be mouthing something probably like let’s fucking goooo it could very well be emanating the sound of a flushing toilet, because that’s precisely what happened when he makes that.

Welp, Baby Magic and partial-year champions theories were cute while they lasted.  I would undoubtedly put legitimate money on the Dodgers to win game 7, because it’s a foregone conclusion that the only thing well that the Braves are going to do, is what they’ve historically been known to do: fall short.

The real question is will they get blown out in the first inning like they did in game 3 a few nights ago and in game 5 against the Cardinals last year, or will they be competitive and hard-fought the entire way and then lose in agonizing and soul-wrenching manner late in the game like they did against the Dodgers back in like 2012?  Who knows, but as long as it ends up with the Braves going home yet again, does it really matter?